ATKINSON — Just three months ago, many seniors voiced their concerns about the future of the Elderly Affairs Department.
Now, details are being ironed out about how it will function under new leadership.
Town Administrator Bill Innes presented a mission statement to selectmen last week that outlined goals and responsibilities of the department under his control.
“I’ve been really looking to have a definition of the department,” Innes said. “I want to put a foundation in place, but it is not my intent to dictate what the department would be.”
The department helps seniors with transportation to medical appointments and other needs. The town has $43,000 budgeted for the department this year. That money covers the salaries of the drivers, gasoline and maintenance.
Innes pointed to the need for a system that would allow the town to identify problems and evaluate all the funded programs to ensure they are effective.
“We are looking to just get a baseline from where the department can meet its needs,” he said.
Innes has served as the acting elderly affairs director since March, when former police Chief Phil Consentino was fired from the position. After Consentino was fired, Innes spoke about a desire to have the department be more transparent than in the past.
While the town is providing seniors with transportation services, Consentino continues to be available to any senior who needs his assistance, using money from a private charitable fund he presides over.
“Anything that doesn’t have anything to do with a ride, I’m here to help out with,” Consentino said last week. “I just helped a woman put a new heating system in her house.”
Innes said the town hopes to work with Consentino on things that can’t be covered by the town.
“I want to work collaboratively,” Innes said. “We’ve looked through assisted items which the town can contribute toward and items that the charitable trust and some other entities in town can do. I believe we worked out a process where we have defined what each will do.”